Cornell University Admission Statistics

Learn About Cornell and the GPA and SAT / ACT Scores You'll Need

Cornell University campus, Ithaca, New York.
Dennis Macdonald/Getty Images

One of the eight Ivy League schools, Cornell University has an extremely low acceptance rate. In 2017, just 13 percent of applicants were admitted, and it ranks as one of the most selective colleges in the country. Cornell accepts both the Common Application and the Universal College Application. The university requires scores from either the SAT or ACT, letters of recommendation, and essays.

Why You Might Choose Cornell University

Along with its excellent faculty and facilities, Cornell University boasts a beautiful location in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. Situated in the small city of Ithaca, the huge hillside campus overlooks Lake Cayuga and is crisscrossed by deep gorges and bridges.​ Cornell ranks among the top New York colleges, top Middle Atlantic colleges, and best national universities.

Cornell is unique among the Ivy League universities in that its agricultural program is part of the state school system. Cornell is well known for its schools of engineering and hotel management. Its strengths in research and instruction have earned it membership in the Association of American Universities, and Cornell can also boast of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Academics are supported by a 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio. Cornell's athletic teams are called the Big Red and compete at the NCAA Division I level.

Cornell University GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

Cornell University GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
Cornell University GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex.

The GPA and test score data in the graph is self-reported by college applicants, and the GPAs are unweighted. To see how you measure up at Cornell, you can see the real-time graph and calculate your chances of getting in with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of Cornell's Admissions Standards

In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. As you can see, the majority of students who got into Cornell had a GPA in the "A" range, SAT scores (RW+M) above 1250 and ACT composite scores above 27 (scores higher than this lower range are obviously going to improve your chances measurably). Hidden behind the blue and green are a lot of red dots, so keep in mind that high grades and test scores are no guarantees of admission to Cornell. For this reason, even strong students should consider Cornell a reach school.

At the same time, keep in mind that Cornell has holistic admissions. The admissions officers are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Students who show some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will get serious consideration even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal. A strong application essay and glowing letters of recommendation can strengthen your application, as can participation in meaningful extracurricular activities. The most important part of your application will be your academic record, and Cornell will want to see more than good grades. Make sure you have challenged yourself with AP, IB, Honors and/or dual enrollment classes. Note that only a few specialized programs at Cornell require an admissions interview.

Admissions Data (2017)

  • Cornell University Acceptance Rate: 13 percent

Test Scores: 25th / 75th Percentile

  • SAT Critical Reading: 690 / 760
  • SAT Math: 700 / 790
  • ACT Composite: 31 / 34
  • ACT English: 32 / 35
  • ACT Math: 30 / 35

If you compare SAT data for all 8 of the Ivy League schools, you'll see that the typical scores for Cornell are just slightly lower than the other Ivies, but those differences are nearly negligible. Students who are not well above average will not be competitive for admission to the university.

More Cornell University Information

Like all of the Ivy League schools, Cornell does not offer merit scholarships—all financial aid is need-based. With a total cost of over $70,000 a year, it may be surprising that only half of Cornell students received grant aid. Cornell will meet students financial need as indicated by the FAFSA, but it is clear that the university enrolls a significant percent of students from affluent families.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 23,016 (14,907 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 48 percent male / 52 percent female
  • 100% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $52,853
  • Books: $930 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $14,330
  • Other Expenses: $2,208
  • Total Cost: $70,321

Cornell Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 60 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 49 percent
    • Loans: 30 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $36,164
    • Loans: $8,107

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Agricultural Business, Animal Science, Biology, Economics, Hotel Management, Human Development, Industrial and Labor Relations, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 85 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 93 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Football, Track, and Field, Baseball, Basketball, Squash, Tennis, Wrestling, Lacrosse, Rowing, Golf, Swimming, and Diving
  • Women's Sports: Fencing, Cross Country, Volleyball, Swimming, and Diving, Squash, Tennis, Softball, Rowing, Sailing, Lacrosse, Track and Field

If You Like Cornell University, Check Out These Other Schools

Cornell arguably has the strongest STEM fields of any of the Ivies, and students interested in Cornell tend to look at other schools with similar strengths such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon University.

Cornell applicants also tend to look at other Ivy League schools such as Yale University, Princeton University, and Brown University. Keep in mind that these schools are even more selective than Cornell. For a couple less selective options in Upstate New York, be sure to look at the University of Rochester and Alfred University.

Data Source: Graph courtesy of Cappex.com; all other data from the National Center for Educational Statistics.